How to Get a Job as a Dental Hygienist
Working as a dental hygienist isn’t just about scraping plaque and giving fluoride treatments. Quinones says a good work ethic, positive attitude, problem-solving skills and strong communication skills will benefit someone hoping to enter the position. “Having a wide array of abilities and talents extends the reach of a dental hygiene degree, allowing access to fields outside of private dental practice,” she adds. “By the same token, most of these skills are developed better through experience, and they easily transfer into other arenas.”
Private practice jobs are a little harder to secure in this economy, Quinones says, but securing one could open more possibilities for hygienists to advance in their field and earn more money. “Necessity breeds creativity, and this is a chance for dental hygienists to think outside the box, look at their skills and apply them to a new career path,” she says.
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What is the Job Like?
This is an excellent occupation for extroverts. In addition to interacting with colleagues (who are often dentists, dental assistants and receptionists), dental hygienists spends ample time educating patients on proper dental care. Patience is crucial, as is a surplus of compassion, since hygienists often treat patients who are anxious about sitting in the dental chair.
Quinones says many in her field enjoy the flexibility that can come with working part time, and according to the BLS, more than half of all hygienists working in 2012 had part-time schedules. But even if you’re putting in shorter workweeks, the workdays could be strenuous, as you’ll be standing and bending over to have a better view of incisors, molars and gums. Staying in good physical shape is recommended to prevent strain and injury.
Last updated by Jada A. Graves.